Calmer and more receptive conditions at Muirfield failed to inspire a genuine charge from any player on Friday, although Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods both moved themselves into contention in differing fashions.
It is Miguel Angel Jimenez, however, who holds the lead heading into Saturday's third round - the man fondly known as 'The Mechanic' sitting all alone at three-under par with 36 holes still to go.
2013 Open Championship leaderboard
- -3 Miguel Angel Jimenez
- -2 Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood,
Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson
- -1 Zach Johnson, Martin Laird, Angel Cabrera
Westwood, somewhat against type, was the standout performer of the early part of the second round - with his putter looking red-hot as he rolled in putt after putt to briefly reach six-under par for the day.
But a difficult closing stretch pegged the Englishman back, with three bogeys on his inward nine ultimately forcing him to settle for a round of 68, one that nevertheless left him well placed in the clubhouse at two-under overall.
That was ultimately a total matched by Woods, who plotted his way around the East Lothian course with a military precision that was the hallmark of his opening round - although his short game was less precise at points as he let a handful of shots slip away on the greens.
Despite that, the world No. 1 birdied the last from 15-feet to return a round of 71 for the day, ready for the challenges of the 36 holes still to come.
"I made the most of the softer conditions, it was certainly more scoreable than yesterday afternoon," Westwood said. "I picked up birdies wherever I could.
"The golf course is playing tough out there, so it's about trying not to give away shots away unnecessarily. You're always going to give away a few, but you have to avoid massive mistakes."
"It was hard," Woods, speaking moments later, added. "It's only going to get more difficult as the day goes on."
Then, in the latter part of the day, those who had made good scores in the relatively kind conditions of Thursday morning attempted to hold on to their position. Miguel Angel Jimenez was the first in the clubhouse at three-under after a second round 71, with Dustin Johnson one shot worse off thanks in part to an eagle at the par-five fifth.
Jimenez, at 49, has the chance to be the oldest ever winner of a major championship - a remarkable prospect, especially for a man who broke his leg skiing over the winter.
"Why [not]?" said Jimenez, when asked if he could win the Open. "Have I not the right to do it? Is it only the young people who can do that?
"I've been on the tour 25 years, I have 19 victories, and I would love to have a first major in my career. Why not this one?"
For a period it looked like Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera would keep Jimenez from Saturday's final pairing, before late slips saw them both finish one-under.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, remains well placed after manfully negotiating the late afternoon difficulties to remain within touching distance at two-over (74), although he would have been feeling even better about his chances but for a four-putt at the 16th and a bogey at the last.
It was Woods and Westwood who set the mark for the day, although both died it in differing styles. Westwood, having started with two birdies, raced out to six-under for the day and five-under for the tournament as he threatened to soar away from the field, before slight mistakes on the back nine curbed his progress.
Woods, in contrast, stayed conservative off the tee and precise in his approaches to the green - with a few slips with the putter and his wedges ultimately preventing him from capitalising fully. Nevertheless, playing partner Graeme McDowell was compelled to describe the world No. 1's play as "a clinic", ominous words ahead of the weekend.
Like Thursday, the afternoon saw greens firm up and pin positions get ever more precarious - with Brandt Snedeker and Nicolas Colsaerts combining to nine-putt the questionably-placed 15th hole (Colsaerts winning the individual count, five to four). With that backdrop it was more a case of protecting a score than pushing on, with Jimenez doing well to claim the clubhouse lead off Woods and Westwood.
Playing over an hour behind the Spaniard, Zach Johnson and Cabrera took turns holding the lead before the back nine pins exacted their revenge, with a couple of dropped shots seeing them fall in with the pack ahead of what promises to be an exciting 'Moving Day'.
Elsewhere, Henrik Stenson also sits two-under going into Saturday, after his second round of 70, while Scotland's own Martin Laird will be the subject of much attention when he starts Saturday one-under.
The likes of Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Darren Clarke and Charl Schwartzel also remain well poised just a single shot the wrong side of par - that illustrious group later being joined by Ian Poulter, who will surely be happy with his efforts in shooting 71.
Woods' playing partner, Graeme McDowell (four-over), made the cut but needs to make a major move on Saturday - something that goes doubley for Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els (both six-over).
For others, however, the dream has long since died. Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Matteo Manassero will all have the weekend off - as will Rory McIlroy, whose woes continued as stumbled to the finish at 12-over, after a round of 75.
At least he beat Sir Nick Faldo, though, as the six-time major champion bowed out at the site of two of his Open wins at 15-over. Small victories, and all that.